Molecular phylogeny and genome evolution in the Drosophila virilis species group: Duplications of the alcohol Dehydrogenase gene

D. I. Nurminsky, E. N. Moriyama, E. R. Lozovskaya, D. L. Hartl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Drosophila virilis is a prominent reference species for comparison with Drosophila melanogaster in regard to patterns and mechanisms of molecular and genomic evolution. Sequences were determined for 11 Adh genes from 8 species of the D. virilis species group, including species from both the virilis phylad and the montana subphylad. The genome of D. virilis contains a 6-kb duplication that includes the entire Adh coding region. The pattern of sequence identity within the duplication strongly suggests a recent gene- conversion event bordered by 36-bp indels. As in other Drosophila, the amino- acid coding region of Adh is encoded by three exons interrupted by two short introns. The promoter region includes 16 blocks of sequence that are well conserved in D. virilis, Drosophila hydei, and D. melanogaster. The developmental profile of Adh transcription suggests a distal/proximal promoter switch analogous to that in D. melanogaster. Duplicate Adh genes were also found in Drosophila montana and Drosophila lacicola, which apparently originated independently of that in D. virilis. The Adh genes in all species of the D. virilis group have among the lowest codon bias of any Adh genes so far reported in the genus Drosophila. Taking the low codon bias into account, we estimate the time of divergence between the virilis and montana clades as 9.0 ± 0.7 Mya and the approximate time of divergence of D. virilis from other members of the virilis phylad as 2.6 ± 0.4 Mya. The region of the D. virilis genome containing Adh, as well as the chromosome as a whole, gives evidence of extensive rearrangements relative to the genome of D. melanogaster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-149
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Adh gene
  • Alcohol dehydrogenase
  • D. virilis species group
  • Drosophila virilis
  • chromosomal inversion
  • genome evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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